At the risk of sounding cliché, sometimes life is a blank canvas and the trials and tribulations we face as people are the colours with which we choose to paint. Our next inspiring tomorrow candidate is the perfect example that we choose the colours and how to paint our canvases because we are leaders of our own destinies.
Zikhona Mbala, in her own words, says she always had a weakness for fairy tales, fantasy worlds and losing herself in a good book. She was born in the Eastern Cape, in Lusikisiki. She has travelled a lot and while she she enjoys working, and living in different provinces, she still calls Lusikisiki home.
“Life has been challenging, sometimes good and sometimes bad. I grew up staying with my late grandmother in Ntabankulu then later moved to Lusikisiki to stay with my mother and siblings. My late father was hardly home since he was a mine worker in Rustenburg, he was working for Impala, he usually came for Easter, when on leave, and Christmas holidays.”
Raised with five siblings, life at home wasn’t easy for Zikhona as they were struggling financially. When she started primary school at Lusikisisiki Village J.S.S., she was lonely as she had no friends because she came from a poor family.
“Life was a misery, I felt lonely as I had no friends at school, no food, no friendship. I carried money for lunch once in a while. Sometimes I would pack unbuttered bread for lunch, because that was what we had. Having a loaf of bread a day was a very huge achievement.”
Mbala was always side-lined during play time. She was always cheering for everyone, she was called a ‘smelling blanket’ because of the chants she would sing for the other kids on the side lines.
“I remember very well that I was always there to cheer them up, singing a lot, “Ndiyayithanda leyongubo kodwa yile mmmm (smelling), le yeyasestolo,” I was always referred to as the smelling blanket and in some other games, I never stood a chance.”
In 2007 when her friend was moving to a private school, Mbala asked her mother to move to Khotso J.S.S which was few minutes away from home. It was easier for her to make friends in her new school. She also started to play sports like handball. When her English teacher chose her to take part in debate, she found her love of writing.
“My English teacher, Miss Mbuqe, chose me to take part in debate amongst other students. I started writing poetry. I started having big dreams that were scaring even me. I wanted to be an actress, a writer and journalist, but life happened.”
In 2009 she was chosen by her classmates to deliver a speech on behalf of the grade 9s for their farewell. In 2010 she moved to Palmerton High School with her current best friend, Yonelisa Matandabuzo, who helped boost her confidence.
After she finished matric, she did not have a registration fee to register at Durban University of Technology (DUT) for journalism. At the time she had limited information knowledge about NSFAS.
“I went to God’s Mercy finishing school to improve some of the subjects that I was not happy about, unfortunately there was no improvement. In 2014 I went to King Sabatha Dyalindyebo. In 2016 I moved to Coastal College to study civil engineering, because of the things that I was seeing around me: how people were living their lives at the school residence and around campus. I was motivated to write a novel entitled My Heart Deceived Me, a fiction novel about greed, betrayal, and forgiveness.”
In 2018 her novel was released with great reviews and in 2019 she registered her company called Izithuba Pty. Ltd, where she publishes books and other general work. In 2020 she also wrote a children’s book during that time called Okuhle and Her Special Tree.
“I produced a children’s books entitled Okuhle and Her Special Tree. My aim was to educate people to not look down on other people because they are different, and I am promoting the culture of reading, and following your dreams not the crowd. Now I am working as a civil technician in KwaZulu-Natal. I am studying an LLB as a part time student at Unisa.”
Zikhona is thankful and inspired by her former school teachers. She is currently working as a junior civil engineer technician. She is a qualified first aider, and fire fighter and, she’s currently studying an LLB at the University of South Africa. She also thankful to people who supported her along the way.
“A special thanks to Mom Kholiswa Fihlani for believing in me every time I wanted to pursue a dream. My cousin brother Sivuyile Ngxaliwe, for being a big bother that I’ve never had. My best friends: Yonelisa Matandabuzo, Thina Ndamase, Sinazo Mbala, Sbulele Mbala for always having my back. To everyone who took part in making my dreams come true, I sincerely thank you. To my primary school teacher Miss Mbuqe, thank you so much for instilling my confidence without even noticing, I am forever grateful.”
Zikhona Mbala is an example that all dreams are possible just as long as you don’t give up. Her words of inspiration are:
“I would like the youth to not give up on their delayed dreams; it is possible if you have confidence in yourself.”
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Tell us: What inspired you the most about Zikhona’s story?